Purposeless and not making an impact fuels the enemy.
Last month I joined the Propel Women’s chapter at My Half of the Sky. It was the first meeting led by the My Half founder, Renee. We meet the last Wednesday of every month. This month the message really hit home with me.. although, I said that last month. 😉 I want to share what the chapter spoke about and the lessons I took away. If you live in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a women’s Bible study to join, view the Propel Women’s chapter locator here or join the one at My Half of the Sky- all are free!
Purposeless and not making an impact fuels the enemy. He tries to keep us distracted with what does not matter. It’s important we consciously make decisions drawing us closer to God and closer to our purpose. But, what exactly does it look like to make healthy decisions? Aside from the obvious of avoiding murder and stealing, how can we take this philosophy and make it applicable to everyday life? Before we dive into the actions and explain what this looks like, it is important to know God has chosen us to live out a life different from everyone else. Sure, aspects may be similar, but no two lives will mirror each other perfectly. If we look at the word “chosen”, it means carefully selected for a sacred purpose. God has carefully chosen us for a sacred purpose. He didn’t settle for us. He “carefully selected”. Decision making allows us to live out the purpose God has intended for us. To know = to do. Purpose isn’t doing one big or grand thing. It is comprised of the decision we make during the day-to-day.
Healthy Decisions are Godly Decisions
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Renee touched on the three main points of this passage. There are sacrifices we need to make when weighing our options and making Godly decisions mean we need to have the ability to renounce. One thing that really stood out to me and is starred on my notes is this: “sacrificial not sentimental love”. God wants us to give up the things we idolize, the things taking up our time and pulling us from him. He’s asking us to love him in a sacrificial way- to set ourselves aside. We must die to ourselves in order to make healthy decisions reflecting the Lord and to be able to love others unconditionally. Social media is a perfect example of how modern and day-to-day sacrificial love comes into play. Instagram and other platforms tell us we are worthy of love when we receive a certain amount of likes or comments on a photo or when a certain person we’re hoping for views our stories. It is a dangerous portrayal of love that leads us into making decisions revolved around a need for approval and affection. While I’m not one to sit thinking about how I can take the perfect selfie, I do notice the more I am on Instagram, the less time I spend with God. I don’t intentionally put Instagram first or always do it, but sometimes I do. I noticed the first thing I reach for in the morning is my phone. Instead of just turning my alarm off, I scroll through Instagram before my head is off the pillow. Sure, I’m catching up on what I missed in the time I was asleep, message friends who are in different timezones and monitor work accounts, but that doesn’t need to be the first thing I do when I wake up. Practicing sacrificial love for me looks like picking up my Bible before my phone each and every day. What does it look like for you? Another thing I love that Renee said is “our feelings lie to us. Our feelings change.” Instead of looking for love, approval or answers from the world, we need to turn to scripture.
How do you respond to truth? Are you wise or foolish? What if you honestly don’t know? Love isn’t “touchy- feely”. Love is respectful accountability. Love holds truth. The gospel is the embodiment of love, truth and justice, which equates and equips us with wisdom. The gospel is the truth which remains the same generation after generation. While times are different than when the 12 disciples walked the earth, the laws and the principles of human morality remain the same.
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The Lord instills us with a guide and examples in the Bible for how we can make decisions. His word is the wisdom. The trials and responses from those in the Bible show us how we are both supposed to and not supposed to react during trials/ in our everyday life. In the scripture above, the Lord says he has made us “clean because of the word” he has already spoken to us.
Ah, good ol’ humility. We need to practice humility through acceptance. When God reveals truth to us- even if we do not like it, we must accept it. In the passage above, God uses the analogy of the vines and the branches. “I am the vine; you are the branches.” The Lord “cuts off every branch” that “bears no fruit”. This can be very bitter- sweet. There were times when I did not understand why certain things have happened- like when friendships have ended or a job I loved. I didn’t realize the Lord was pruning me and removing something in my life that no longer served me or contributed to His plan for me. The Lord is pruning us and removing fake vines that are attached to us.
Another aspect of practicing humility is relieving ourself of unrealistic self-expectations. Once we let go of our definition and idea of success and worth, we can focus on the Lor’d’s and pursue the true path of success He has already mapped out for us. Flexibility and giving up control can be difficult, but we’re not really the ones in control. God is.
Above all, healthy decisions rely on prayer. Through prayer we are able to be recharged. God is the ultimate power source. Just like our electronics need to be plugged in to work, so do we. We need to show as much dedication to connecting with God as we do connecting our phones in when the battery becomes low. Prayer helps guide us to making those healthy decisions. When we take what we have learned from the Bible and pair it with talking directly to God, we receive the clarity and guidance needed to execute these behavioral and decision making patters. Prayer is like anything else, you don’t do it once and expect to be “at the top” so to speak. While, prayer isn’t a competitive sport and we aren’t bestowed honors on the best prayers, it is similar to the dedication players have and those advanced in their professional field. Football players don’t play one game then play in the NFL the following day. They practice day in and day out and have hours upon hours of experience. They put in the hard work and make it a priority. Our prayer life should be the same. We shouldn’t pray once then expect everything. In fact, the things we may want might not be what the Lord has in store because there is something better on the horizon. We need to not only remember, but follow through with setting time aside for Him daily. We have to make room for God in our lives for Him to show up and we have to maintain that space. Pray boldly because He will show up.
A decision is seeking + knowing + doing.
Self-Reflection/ journaling prompts
What fake vines are you attaching to?
List ways hindering you from attaching to the vine and knowing God
List 2 ways you can attach to the true vine
List 2 ways you can know God intimately
Photograph courtesy of Mariya Leona. Thank you, Mariya!
WRITING ABOUT ALL THINGS SOCIAL JUSTICE & LIFESTYLE
Macaila is a writer and digital strategist focusing on creating lasting social change. As a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, Macaila learned what it was like to forcibly slow down and relearn everything once second nature. Throughout this experience, she was able to spend more time volunteering and learning about various local and global organizations. Through her season of depending on others, she felt connected to the mission of Durrell on a deeper level as the animals there are dependent on humans. This small connecting point inspired her to help others discover how they too can relate social justice to their lives and make a difference. When Macaila isn’t sharing stories, you can find her with an iced coffee in hand, discovering the beauty in the smile of a stranger, sunsets, and blasting Taylor Swift with the windows rolled down.